Damage Deposits - Cash Only Until We Are Trusted - Disappointing BDC Policy
We have self contained properties where the guest arrives and lets themselves in with the key in a key safe by the front door. We require a damage deposit from guests.
When a guest books on AirBnB, they pay for the booking and an extra amount is reserved on the card to cover a damage deposit. If we need to claim on it, we can do. If not, it is cancelled 7 days after the guest leaves.
When a guest books on TripAdvisor, the damage deposit is paid to TripAdvisor. If we need to claim on it, we can do. If not, it is cancelled and refunded automatically to the guest 7 days after the guest leaves.
Booking.com have a very different policy. All of our properties on BDC use Payments by Booking.com. Guests pay at the time of booking. However, they do not pay a damage deposit. With one property, the settings show that guests can pay the damage deposit directly to us via bank transfer. With other properties, the settings show that guests pay the damage deposit in cash on arrival and it is refunded in cash when the guest leaves.
Cash is not practical for us. Guests could drive over 100 miles and get stuck in traffic jams. They could be delayed on ferry crossings. They may want to leave early to get home before traffic builds up on the motorways. Therefore, check-in and check-out times are flexible to suit the guests. We cannot have someone waiting at the property for several hours for a guest to arrive and hope they have the cash with them and cannot make guests wait around for us to get to the property to refund them.
We don't think it would be good to wait around for hours and then say to guests "We know you've been travelling for 8 hours and you're tired and irritable and you just want to get in and unpack, but we need the damage deposit, so please can you go to the cash machine 1 mile away and then we'll give you the key".
Also, there is no proper record with cash payments. Sure, we can use a receipt book, but we prefer all payments (including damage deposits) to be properly recorded.
BDC could easily modify their payment systems to reserve an amount for a damage deposit at the time the guest books online, but they won't.
They have said "Until you reach a certain number of booked stays, the system will say Cash Only". They won't say what that 'certain number of booked stays' is. Even when we reach that number and the system changes to "Damage Deposit by Bank Transfer", it's a manual job that we have to do and we have to keep asking guests to pay it.
It would be so easy for BDC to change their systems but they won't.
BDC also say this is because we are "not trusted" yet. I have spent many hours pushing the points across to BDC that we are a genuine company, we can prove ownership of the properties, prove that we are fully insured, etc etc etc, but they won't have it. Personally, I find the term "not trusted" quite offensive as we can prove we are genuine.
At the end of the day, the damage deposit is very important. Property owners need to be protected, as do other guests. If guests have paid a damage deposit, they are more likely to be more careful with the property.
We have had an incident where guests from BDC did not pay the damage deposit and they trashed the property - it had been newly refurbished. We had to close the property for another 2 weeks and cancel some bookings. If the guests had paid a damage deposit, they might have thought twice about their behaviour.
The BDC policy on damage deposits is unfair to owners and puts future bookings at risk, so is unfair to future guests.
I would like BDC to make a simple change to Payments by Booking.com to reserve the damage deposit amount at the time the guest makes the booking. It's a quick and easy change for them to make and will protect owners and will protect future guests.
I have spent many hours pushing these points to BDC and will continue the fight with BDC to protect owners and protect future guests.
How do you feel about BDC damage deposit policies?